As the Met Office and Public Health England have issued a level two ‘alert and readiness’ warning due to temperatures being expected to reach 37 degrees or higher on Thursday (25th July 2019), the TUC are calling on employers to provide suitable working conditions to encourage productivity despite the heat.
HRreview has compiled a list of tips from industry professionals on how to keep employees productive in the heat:
- Keeping the building cool –This could include opening windows, using fans, installing ventilation or air conditioning and moving staff away from direct sunlight.
- Allowing flexible working – If possible, give the staff the choice of flexible hours so they can miss the overcrowding of public transport during rush hour. To avoid this entirely, bosses could consider letting staff work from home.
- Relaxing the dress code – Formal dress codes which consist of many layers will just add to the overheating. Bosses can temporarily relax the dress code so their employees can wear comfortable and lightweight clothing. These three suggestions come from the TUC.
- Get outside – If flexible working is not an option, Mark Pinches, head of coaching at Westfield Health suggests encouraging employees to get fresh air as this will result in “mentally refreshed and less stressed employees as just a few minutes in the outdoors or a change of scenery can have a noticeable impact on productivity levels.”
- Socialise – Encouraging people to socialise will “help people stay relaxed and in good spirits”, says Mr Pinches, as it “breaks up the routine”.
XpertHR also adds that expected work rates should be adjusted to account for the rise in temperature. Additionally, they express the need for understanding on the employer’s part – with many public transport routes likely to be disrupted due to the heat, employers should make allowances such as allowing staff to make up missed time.
Currently, there are no laws outlining the maximum and minimum temperature of a work space apart from the loose guideline that indoor offices must be ‘reasonable’ in temperature.
Since 2006, the TUC have been backing a change to the law which would introduce a new maximum indoor temperature, set at 30 degrees. Making it mandatory for employers to implement cooling measures within the workplace when the temperature rises above 24 degrees.
Rob Hingston, head of Origin Workspace, a coworking space talks of how he implements this within the workplace:
At Origin Workspace, we work hard to keep members engaged and motivated, from offering lunchtime yoga classes, to Friday member perks which include everything from fresh smoothies to happy hour in the members’ lounge. If companies don’t have a summer staff productivity strategy, my recommendation would be to check with your local coworking space about summer programmes they have in place to not only keep staff cool but motivated to do their best work.
Rochelle Bowen, talent acquisition manager at Paratus People, a company specialising in IoT and broadcast technology, said:
Here at Poratus People, we understand that heat can be distracting! Shorts and t-shirts are absolutely no problems, we even have branded ones! We encourage casual dress in the hot weather as we want out team to feel at their best at all times.
Once we get to Thursday, we make sure everybody has a short break to go down to the ice cream man! We organise his visit ourselves and it is much appreciated by the team.
Most importantly though, we encourage our staff to venture outside, or to our roof terrace on their breaks to catch those rays and get some fresh air!